There are many problems with obesity in the world today, and childhood obesity is on the increase. The main causes for childhood obesity are an increase in energy intake i.e. food, and a decrease in physical activity. Today children spend more time watching television and playing indoors, than they do being physically active outdoors. Outdoor learning provides children with the opportunity to get the physical exercise they need. If children are more active during their preschool years they are less likely to suffer from obesity later in life.
Spending time in a natural environment has other benefits, such as improving the development of children’s gross motor skills. Natural environments provide children with a rich and dynamic environment in which to develop these motor skills. Slopes and rocks present children with obstacles that they can climb up and jump from, vegetation provides areas for shelter and trees for climbing, and open spaces give children the opportunity to run and tumble. There are many challenges in nature that teach children how to deal with various situations, giving them the confidence to face similar challenges in the future. These challenges include how to get to the bottom of a steep slope without stumbling over, and how high to climb a tree without risking falling out.